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BAR HARBOR, Maine — Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the beginning of Maine’s summer tourist season, which typically draws millions of visitors to Acadia National Park annually from late May through mid-October.
Visitors to Mount Desert Island who expect to hike or play on Sand Beach this weekend face unprecedented restrictions because of precautions aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19. Access to much of the park’s facilities is expected to remain closed for the next couple of weeks — if not longer.
But the park’s semi-closure is not stopping visitors from showing up.
“The tourists are coming,” Matthew Hochman, vice-chairman of the Bar Harbor Town Council, said. “I don’t know where they are staying, but there definitely are people here who aren’t from here.”
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For now, Acadia National Park is not charging visitors for admission.
But concession stands and visitor information centers are closed at least through the end of the month, according to park officials. Park roads will be closed to vehicles, but accessible to pedestrians and cyclists, with the exception of gravel carriage roads, many of which are undergoing seasonal repairs.
Most hiking trails are open, except some that are closed due to nesting peregrine falcons.
Bathrooms and campgrounds are closed.
A full list of park closures can be found here.
In adjacent Bar Harbor, where many park visitors stay the night or go to get food, many services that have been unavailable since mid-March are finally starting to reopen. Several restaurants are offering takeout or limited indoor seating. Hotels will remain closed until June 1 but can accept reservations from Mainers or out-of-state residents who have quarantined here for 14 days.
The town had closed its public bathrooms in March — which inadvertently caused many visitors to rely on the bathrooms at the local Hannaford supermarket — but the council decided this week to reopen them.
Cornell Knight, the town manager, said Tuesday the city will replace automatic hand dryers in public bathrooms with paper towel dispensers to reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus. Knight said the bathrooms would be reopened individually as the dispensers are installed.
Bar Harbor won’t start charging for parking on downtown streets and public lots until June 1.
Watch: Who can make reservations at Maine hotels next month?